Tyler, the Creator began MSG run with Kali Uchis, Vince Staples & Teezo Touchdown (night 1 review)
Tyler, the Creator made his Madison Square Garden debut on his 2019 IGOR tour, an experience that inspired a lyric on "Corso" off 2021's Call Me If You Get Lost: "played a couple demos at Madison Square Garden!" Tyler returned to the iconic NYC arena on Sunday night (3/13), this time for his first of two shows there, and he played that very song, with an extravagant sea-green house behind him and fireworks exploding from the ceiling. It was the sort of epic display you might expect during an encore. For Tyler, it was his second song of the night.
The first song was Call Me If You Get Lost opener "Sir Baudelaire," which Tyler rapped as he rose from beneath the stage in a Rolls Royce (a reference to the album's lead single "Lumberjack"), and it was clear off the bat that Tyler's stage show was a huge spectacle, worthy of being filmed for a television special and entirely effective in person too. He also looked and sounded amazing, wearing the same hat he wears on the CMIYGL album cover, dancing all throughout his elaborate stage setup, and rapping and singing just as expertly as he does on his albums. The show began with a lengthy chunk of Call Me If You Get Lost songs, and then -- keeping with the luxurious theme of the show and album -- Tyler rode a boat through the crowd from the main stage to a smaller stage in the back of the room while performing "Wusyaname."
Upon arriving at the back stage, which was decorated with browned shrubbery, Tyler launched into some material from 2017's Flower Boy. Then he talked about the smaller NYC venues he played as he was coming up, including Webster Hall and Terminal 5, and then dedicated a medley of songs to everyone who was into him before Flower Boy, including "She," "Yonkers," "Rusty," "Tamale," and more. It was not only a treat to hear those songs again; it was also a reminder of how triumphant Tyler's rise truly has been. He started his career as the antithesis of mainstream rap, and as he evolved, he came to dominate rap's mainstream without ever catering to expectations or making artistic sacrifices. He got to the point where he can headline two consecutive nights at Madison Square Garden by being his weird self, and that was very evident on Sunday night. This did not feel like a typical arena rap show; it felt like a Tyler, the Creator show, and nothing else in the world feels like that.
After his medley of older songs, Tyler rode the boat back to the main stage and he began the spectacular closing portion of the night, including "Who Dat Boy" with pyrotechnics, "Earfquake" with gold rain falling from the ceiling, and a highly emotional performance of "New Magic Wand," which Tyler said is his favorite song he's written so far. ("I go out of tune," he admits, "but sometimes life is out of tune.") To wrap things up, he went full circle back to Call Me If You Get Lost for "Runitup," and then disappeared from the stage, no fake encore or anything. It was the satisfying ending that this show deserved.
In addition to Tyler's headlining set, the Call Me If You Get Lost tour is an extremely well-curated package. The show kicked off at 7 PM with Teezo Touchdown, a hard-to-define, rap-esque weirdo pop artist who's featured on "Runitup," and who said on stage that this was his very first tour. He was a great opener and knew exactly how to get the crowd invested, even if most people in attendance probably didn't know his songs. He based his stage show off his web shorts series Heavy Metal Only, and it was like a concert meets public access TV. His set was over and done with in about 17 minutes, and he definitely left an impression.
After Teezo was Tyler's old pal Vince Staples, who played a career spanning set with everything from fan faves "Blue Suede," "Fun!," "Are You With That?," "745," "Big Fish," and "Norf Norf" to his new single "Magic." Unlike the other acts on the bill, Vince kept the visuals/props aspect of his show to a minimum and just focused on good songs and good rapping. Vince made the large arena feel intimate, and he reminded the crowd that you don't need any frills to put on a great set.
Direct support came from bilingual R&B singer Kali Uchis, who seemed like she drew almost as many people to the show as Tyler did. The bulk of the venue was chanting her name even before she went on, knew all the words to a good chunk of her songs, and screamed their heads off for her all throughout her set. Kali was joined by four black-clad dancers, and she commanded the stage like she was the headliner, with a voice that soared and the seemingly effortless confidence of a pop superstar. She also sounded great, and it was a nice change of pace to get a full set of pop/R&B in between Vince and Tyler's primarily rap sets. Judging by the way the crowd reacted to her, I wouldn't be surprised if she'll be headlining MSG herself in the near future.
The Call Me If You Get Lost tour hits MSG again on Monday night (3/14), and continues with many more North American dates through April. (All dates here.) If you get a chance to see this tour, don't miss it.
Photos by Luis "Panch" Perez, some fan-shot videos and Tyler's setlist below...
Tyler, the Creator @ MSG - 3/13/22 Setlist (via)
HOT WIND BLOWS
(Boat to B Stage)i>
See You Again
I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE
(Boat back to main stage)
Who Dat Boy
NEW MAGIC WAND